Sink into a chesterfield lounge and order an East End Ice Tea inspired by Newcastle Beach on a summer’s day. Co-owned by passionate young bartender Jackson Dunlap and Mara Zenteno, Saints offers a menu of 50-plus gins and is one of a growing wave of small bars cropping up across the city. Saints’ espresso martini is not only delicious but also as local as it comes, made from Mr Black Coffee Liqueur, Newcastle Distilling Company Vodka and an espresso martini mix by Drop Bear Coffee.
31 King St; saintsbar.com.au
Dust off your loudest Hawaiian shirt and make for tiki-inspired rum bar Blue Kahunas. This tropical rum shack hidden behind unassuming doors offers mismatched furniture, fishing nets and the best of tiki culture. Byron Marzinotto and Prudence Farquhar are the bar’s partners in life and work. Farquhar says Newcastle is an incredible little city on the rise with a young creative crowd. ‘The bar scene is also growing up with new bars opening and a more diverse nightlife.’ Don’t leave without sampling the bar’s signature cocktail, Barrel O’ Nanas, and check out the couple’s latest venture Bar Mellow in Newcastle’s west end.
3/146 Hunter St; bluekahunasbar.com
Coal & Cedar
This cool prohibition-era-style speakeasy concealed behind a barbershop wall (you need a password for entry) is housed in one of Newcastle’s beautiful heritage buildings. Lauded as one of Newcastle’s best cocktail bars, patrons can get cosy in a booth or prop themselves up at the bar to watch the tattooed bartenders craft top-shelf cocktails such as Apple Hooch made from tart Granny Smith apples or an epic whisky sour. Masterclasses are held for cocktail enthusiasts.
380 Hunter St; coalandcedar.com
The Falcon Bar
The Falcon, in Newcastle’s East End, serves Mexican beer and stellar cocktails alongside comfort food inspired by the American South. Co-owner Mike Galvin grew up near Florida and brings brisket wood-smoked for 12 hours, smoky Louisiana jambalaya and fried chicken and waffles to the Pacific St bar housed in an historic two-storey terrace. The Falcon is all about vintage rock, a laid-back vibe and affable staff – some of whom make a dash for a quick surf in their break. The millennial crowd streaming in after a day at the beach can’t get enough.
10 Pacific St; thefalconnewcastle.com.au
Bartenders at this dimly lit, seriously sexy Japanese-inspired speakeasy craft bespoke cocktails teamed with a simple menu of gyoza and edamame. Australian gins and Japanese whiskeys dominate the cocktail list, which can be customised to suit the individual palette. Service is attentive wherever you sit, however the best seat in the house is unquestionably at the bar for front-row seats to all that mixing and shaking.
555 Hunter St; thekoutetsu.com
The Rum Diary Bar
Unleash your inner pirate at this dimly lit watering hole brought to Newcastle from the team behind the original Rum Diary Bar in Melbourne’s north. Patrons at the shipwreck-themed bar can explore secret passageways leading to three distinct drinking spaces or head to the upper terrace housing Newcastle’s first cigar lounge. Come for the boozy rum cocktails, stay for the Caribbean-inspired menu featuring Cuban rolls, Spanish empanadas and coconut-grilled corn.
529 Hunter St; rumdiarybar.com.au/newcastle